Perspectives from the *other side* on Software, Management and Life

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rails Developers

I've recently started noticing the same trend in Ruby on Rails development as Java development was 10 years ago. Everyone who is anyone is jumping into it. From engineers to musicians. While its nice to have a lot of developers, the end quality remains elusive. So if you're thinking about picking up Rails, ask yourself this:

Are you in it for the money or are you in it for the passion?

If you're for the former, all the best to you, I really dont have much to say after that.

If you're the latter, then I suggest you strategize before becoming a code monkey, a list I'd recommend is:

1. Read the basics - ie know what Ruby is first and then pick up on the basics of Ruby on Rails
2. Write a simple application - but dont leave the 'magic' work under the hood without understanding it. Rip it apart, figure out why something works and why it doesnt work. Scaffold's and ActiveRecord in Rails make web development look like a walk in the park. But only those developers who understand what happens under the hood make it past the standard websites and onto the more interesting and challenging tasks of scalability and security.
3. Keep returning back to the basics. A sky scrapper would fall if its foundations were to be eroded. Dont let that happen to you.
4. Be active on GitHub. Nothing beats being the person who writes code that hundreds or thousands of other developers get to use. And you'll learn meta-programming in the process too!
5. Take on energetic developers as your proteges. Every now and then you'll get a question that'll make you think even when your current projects doesnt.
6. Avoid the 'I am god' syndrome. No matter how good you are, there will always be someone better. And nobody likes a snob anyway!

Friday, March 11, 2011

The light at the end of the tunnel for Off-Shore Web Development

If you're in the offshore web development business and think there's a train coming head on - you're probably right!

I've been pondering over this for a few months now and the conclusion I come up with is that offshore web development companies are like tiny fishing boats rushing into the ocean not realizing its the calm before the prefect storm. Most such businesses today are only concerned with one thing, recruitment. Gone is the thought that there can be a storm lurking just beyond the horizon and the more they recruit the bigger the downsizing they'll need to do.

If you're a developer, work hard to be the best. Since the best define their own destiny and even during tough times can find work.

Why do I believe this is a bubble thats going to burst:

1. Recent adoption of consumer devices eg iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry pad etc are sending most brands and companies into a panic attack, the same way the dot com boom of 2000 did. Most of the mobile apps being launched today are plain crappy - they add little value other than being installed on the device and allowing the user to enjoy a customized experience. But WAIT, didnt the web promise us the same? Oh right ...html just isnt ready to do the work these apps can, or is it. It doesnt matter which side of the argument you're on, we can all agree that html5 will become mainstream and these apps will be gone the same way desktop apps have.

2. It takes 3 (three) developers to do the work of one. One developer is doing the website, another the iOS and another the android (lets assume no body wants to develop for BB, WebOS and Symbian). Question: How many browsers are there? How many developers does it take to write an app for all of them? ONE! So we likely have a 3x Artificial/Temporary demand in resources going on right now.

3. Labor Intensive. All labor intensive industries have gone the way of disruption through productivity tools and automation. Software is no different, and we're already seeing the emergence of a new breed of RAD tools as well as technologies that enable porting to all devices by writing code once. Ahh - Java Applets, you were born prematurely! Flash - you suck. Microsoft SilverLight - you belong to the 'dark side'! HTML5, you'll do just fine.

So the million dollar question is, When is the bubble going to burst. Thats anyone's guess, but a market correction will come. Have you hedged your bets in terms of growth initiatives?

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